James O'Brien

PaulMartin2

Report: Penguins won’t re-sign Martin, Ehrhoff; intend to spend on wingers

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Even with the trials and tribulations they faced at times in Pittsburgh, one would think there was a chance that the Penguins might bring back either Paul Martin or Christian Ehrhoff. Instead, it sounds like they’ll go very young in 2015-16.

Le Presse’s Marc Antoine Godin reports that the Pens are opting for a “full youth movement” on defense, and that they’d rather spend their cash on wingers this summer.

It’s easy to pick out the Penguins defensemen who would rank as “experienced:” Kris Letang, Ian Cole, Rob Scuderi and Ben Lovejoy.

Beyond that, you have promising (and resoundingly unlucky) young blueliner Olli Maatta leading a group of fresh faces that includes the likes of Derrick Pouliot and Brian Dumoulin. Some would go even further with that youth movement, actually:

On paper, the Penguins could very well have a healthy amount of cap space, especially if they go with young and cheap blueliners instead of signing veterans. Beyond the go-to answer of Justin Williams, it’s to say how robust the free agent market will be regarding wingers, although the Penguins could also aim for a trade or some other move.

/Waits for wave of Brandon Saad comments.

Anyway, it’s an interesting and bold strategy, assuming Godin’s report is correct. We’ll see how that situation shakes out in what’s looking like a summer of change both on and off the ice for Pittsburgh.

One less pest: Pens will reportedly let Lapierre walk

Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Rangers - Game Two
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The Pittsburgh Penguins brought in some agitating new presences in 2014-15, but it sounds like at least one of them won’t be back.

TVA’s Renaud Lavoie reports that the team won’t re-sign Maxim Lapierre, allowing him to hit the unrestricted free agent market.

The 30-year-old was best known for getting under opponents’ skin. In 80 regular season games, he managed 11 points and 32 PIM, and probably received a wide array of profane insults for his pesky ways. After 45 games wih the St. Louis Blues, he joined the Penguins via a trade (the Blues nabbed defensive forward Marcel Goc in the deal).

Penguins fans and observers seem pleased that he’s on his way out:

The Penguins have other fish to fry this offseason, including a tougher decision to make regarding another (more productive) pest, as Steve Downie’s also heading toward free agency.

Should the Sabres buy out Hodgson?

hodgsongetty
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If you want a study in how far a player can fall in a season, you may not find a better example than Buffalo Sabres forward Cody Hodgson.

There was a time when many believed that the Sabres fleeced the Vancouver Canucks in a trade that also involved Zack Kassian. The tune changed quite a bit recently, as he was a healthy scratch at times during a disastrous 2014-15 season.

Now talks are once again cropping up about a possible buyout for Hodgson, as GM Tim Murray told WGR 550’s Paul Hamilton that the situation is “still a decision.” Meanwhile, Murray told Hodgson to improve his skating and conditioning during the offseason.

This is one of the more explicit moments in which the topic came up, yet it’s not the first. The Buffalo News discussed it at the end of the season. The subject popped up in Elliotte Friedman’s popular “30 Thoughts” article back in February.

This is Buffalo’s chance to make such a decision, as the period takes place in June, and teams see big savings if they buy out a player before they turn 26 (it jumps from one-third of the cost to two-thirds once they hit that age).

The Buffalo News mercifully did the math of a Hodgson buyout, to best illustrate the savings:

Buffalo still owes Hodgson $19 million, so a buyout would cost the club $6.27 million. The organization needs to decide if the former 10th overall pick can reach that potential. The buyout period is in June.

In that same article, the 25-year-old said he’d love to be back in Buffalo, and struggled to explain his issues beyond “bad luck, whatever you want to call it.”

While there are obvious reasons why this could be beneficial, here are a few counterpoints to buying him out:

  • He’s still young: It’s not as if Hodgson hit a wall physically. Sometimes young scorers have one of those “Murphy’s Law” years where everything goes wrong. It seems silly to throw away a possible point-producer on a team that was woeful offensively last season.
  • It would be wasted money: The Sabres aren’t cap-strapped, but they’d be throwing away that $6.27 million for nothing. What if he could redeem himself and then at least be more valuable on the trade market?
  • He could click with all the changes: Perhaps Dan Bylsma would suit him well and give him a fresh voice? Maybe Hodgson finds chemistry with Evander Kane next season?

Buffalo needs to make this decision soon, whether they keep the struggling young forward or not. What should they do?

Related

Ted Nolan was exasperated with him, but said he wasn’t a lost cause.

Saad scores, can Chicago hold the lead? (Video)

2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Three
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The Chicago Blackhawks have held some leads during the 2015 Stanley Cup Final, they just haven’t been proficient when it comes to protecting them:

That won’t sting nearly as much if they can maintain a 2-1 edge they have against the Tampa Bay Lightning thanks to this great effort by Brandon Saad:

Chicago isn’t that far away from tying the series, although the Lightning have shown that they don’t need much time to find the net.

The 22-year-old now has a goal in two straight contests, drawing some serious praise in the process:

So, can they make that lead stick?

Video: Blackhawks get first goal, but lead doesn’t last

Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith
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Finally.

That’s likely the reaction for the Chicago Blackhawks and their fans. Jonathan Toews gave Chicago its first 1-0 lead of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final in the second period of Game 4:

If you’re just floating in, it probably seems like same old, same old for Toews. It’s been a little frustrating lately, though, as Chicago drew criticism for a slow first period.

They also drew iron a couple times before that inspirational goal:

One goal later, the outlook improves greatly for Chicago. If this series is teaching us anything, it’s that the Tampa Bay Lightning could easily strike back quickly, though.

Update: Yup, that lead did not last very long. Valtteri Filppula made a tremendous pass that Alex Killorn snapped into Chicago’s net to tie things up 1-1:

Let’s just say it won’t do Trevor van Riemsdyk any favors:

Short-lived leads almost seem expected at this point, though, right?